Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Paddy's 'Great Trudge' was like a beautiful old fashioned waltz for me
on 12 November 2013
Some books are so beautiful that one's reading pace is slowed to make the pleasure last the longer. One such book, The Broken Road, stands alone from the rest of Patrick Leigh Fermor's work, and Paddy hesitated to finish it not slowed by pleasure but by the enormity of working with seven decades of memory. Paddy's other work I have read often, at least twice, given to pausing by the sheer density of the material. This book is different. The scholarship, the elegant turn of phrase, the crafted picture be it of scene or character, yes all is here as always, but now includes so much of Paddy that, although it may be unintentional both on the part of Paddy and of his brilliant editors, Artemis Cooper and Colin Thubron, the reader is 'taken up' (to use Paddy's own phrase) by the author to walk each step with him.
One senses the excitement of the contrasting cities of architectural elegance or aged and strange curiosities, the challenge of untamed plains and glorious mountains, the beauty of a Europe pre-WW2, pre-communist restrictions, then one feels the depression of storms and soggy valleys, challenging mountain passes and a billet in a peasant's hovel. The chance encounter of Paddy, Greek fishermen and Bulgarian shepherds and the ensuing party and dancing in a vast cave is a classic. This is Europe but one few have experienced, and although I could say happily history has left a Rumania and Bulgaria in part still recognisable from PLF's talented description it is in reality a world which was thought vanished and which lives again through these pages.
The book is in two distinct parts, the larger part drawn PLF's memories, although he had been reunited with his Green Diary and he had already written "A Youthful Journey", the building blocks for The Broken Road, they were never collated together by the author or by his editors. The raison d'ȇtre for the walk to reach Constantinople (never Istanbul) from the Hook of Holland was achieved but curiously Paddy's thoughts on reaching his goal were scarcely recorded. The epilogue, so to speak, is a word for word inclusion of a diary written as he walked between monasteries on Mount Athos in the depths of winter. This last masterpiece has less descriptive prose, undoubtedly that would have been achieved had Paddy had the strength to complete the work to his satisfaction; as a woman I would have loved more intricate detail on the frescoes and architecture of the monasteries; but given this diary was never intended for publication the chapter is a gem.